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Mohammed film protests turn violent

Mob threatens US embassy, ignores call for calm

Protesters demonstrate outside the embassy Protesters demonstrate outside the embassy
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • September 17, 2012
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Protesters today defied calls by senior Muslim figures for calm amid ongoing anger at a controversial anti-Islamic film, by trying to storm the US embassy in Jakarta.

Police used water cannon to try to disperse at least 1,000 protesters who attempted to enter the embassy grounds after attacking riot police with rocks. At  least one policeman was injured.

Violence flared despite an earlier appeal from Masdar Farid Mas’udi  a senior figure from the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in the country.

He had urged Muslims to stay calm and not be provoked by the film, Innocence of Muslims, which has caused a wave of violent protests across the Islamic world.

“If they are provoked and things turn violent like in Libya and some other countries, then the filmmaker’s bad intentions will be fulfilled,” Mas’udi said in his appeal.

The 14-minute film directed by Sam Bacile portrays the Prophet Mohammed as an immoral sexual deviant.

Several protests against the film, which was posted on video-sharing website YouTube, have already taken place across the country, including one involving at least 500 people in Jakarta on Friday, but all were realtively peaceful until today.

Meanwhile, the government has welcomed a decision by Google to restrict access to the controversial anti-Islamic film.

“Google, which is YouTube’s parent company, emailed us on Thursday evening to say it had blocked access to 16 URLs” related to the Innocence of Muslims on the site, a spokesman for the Communications and Information Ministry said yesterday.

Extracts of the film were still available on YouTube yesterday, but he said Google was “making special effort” to prevent the film from being watched in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

“We understand that it takes time for Google to block everything. We appreciate Google’s cooperation,” he added.

Google last week rejected a White House request to take the film down from the site but agreed to limit access in several countries.
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